Box Office News

B.O. Analysis May 25: 'Night at the Museum 2' Fights Back, Crushes 'Terminator'

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May 25, 2009 | 9:10am EDT

[IMG: LFamilies flocked to Ben Stiller's version of the Smithsonian Museum this holiday weekend, reinforcing Stiller's winning box-office ways with Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, which earned a bigger than expected $70 million for the four-day holiday period. Moving the franchise from mid-December to late May paid off handsomely as the Fox film and its PG-rating made it an irresistible family-friendly treat that surprised many with its number-one debut.

In second place was the fourth installment of the Terminator series, Terminator Salvation starring Christian Bale, which earned $53.8 million for the four days and $67.2 million since its Thursday debut. With its appeal to sci-fi fans and those looking to see the intense Bale at work, the PG-13-rated film appealed to an older audience and those still interested in the saga of time-traveling hero John Connor. With three directors having worked on the series (James Cameron for the first two, Jonathan Mostow for T3 and now McG for T4), there have been a lot of chefs in the Terminator kitchen.

This weekend is quite reminiscent of the July 4, 2000 battle when the R-rated Mel Gibson Civil War epic The Patriot was expected to beat the PG-13-rated The Perfect Storm starring George Clooney. Perhaps this proves that a less restrictive rating seizes the moment, and on a holiday weekend, it can prove to be the Trump card to box-office success.

In third is the most elusive of all box-office creatures, the summer blockbuster with "legs": Paramount’s Star Trek. At $191 million in earnings with just a miniscule drop of 47 percent, the film is on the cusp of becoming the highest grossing film of the year — going strong and poised to surpass the amazing Monsters vs. Aliens, which now stands at $193.6 million.

In fourth is Sony/Columbia’s worldwide blockbuster, Angels & Demons with a holiday weekend take of $27.7 million. It was the number-one film overseas for the second consecutive weekend, earning $60.4 million in box-office sales and now stands at a whopping $286 million worldwide. The mystery thriller starring Tom Hanks is expected to hit $300 million on Wednesday.

Rounding out the Memorial Day weekend top five is the counter-programmed newcomer Dance Flick. The comedic parody had a modest budget and offered a new alternative for those looking for something a little different for their holiday movie-going.

Shocker of all shockers: This weekend did not break any significant box-office records — something we'd become used to seeing in this year's box-office bonanza. Nonetheless, of the past nine weeks, this was the eighth "up" weekend vs. last year and another solid box-office weekend at the nation’s theaters. With a YTD revenue advantage over last year of 14.45 percent and an attendance uptick of nearly 12 percent, this Memorial Day weekend was yet another building block in the pursuit of the first $10 billion year at the box office.

FOUR-DAY ESTIMATES:

1. NEW! Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (Fox) - $70M; 4096 theaters; $17,090 PTA

2. NEW! Terminator Salvation (Warner Bros.) - $53.8M; 3530 theaters; $15,248 PTA; $67.1M cume (incl. Thursday's earnings)

3. Star Trek (Paramount) - $29.4M; 4053 theaters; $7,254 PTA; -47%; $191M cume

4. Angels & Demons (Sony/Columbia) - $27.7M; 3527 theaters; $7,854 PTA; -53%; $87.8M cume

5. NEW! Dance Flick (Paramount) - $13.1M; 2450 theaters; $5,347 PTA

6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Fox) - $10.1M; 3183 theaters; $3,173 PTA; -46%; $163.3M

7. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (Warner Bros.) - $4.8M; 2255 theaters; $2,144 PTA; -43%; $46.9M cume

8. Obsessed (Sony/Screen Gems) - $2.5M; 1603 theaters; $1,560 PTA; -57%; $66.4M cume

9. Monsters vs. Aliens (Paramount) - $1.9M; 1434 theaters; $1,325 PTA; -55%; $193.5M cume

10. 17 Again (Warner Bros.) - $1.2M; 1107 theaters; $1,156 PTA; -70%; $60.5M cume

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